As part of Bulgaria: The Land of Opportunity series that ~WithLoveFromBG~ launched this past July, I am super excited to bring to you the story of one extraordinary couple and their “Bulgarian Odyssey”. What makes them so extraordinary you ask? Well, besides their rich on experiences individual backgrounds, which you will find more about in just a few seconds, there is this one other tiny little thing. They are leaving the UK and moving to the country side of Bulgaria to start a business and build a life! How is that for EXTRAordinary?!
You probably can already tell that these are not your usual Brits. In fact, one of them is not even British. She is Belgian! Born and raised in Gent, she holds a degree in Fine Arts Ceramics, speaks Flemish, Dutch, French and English, and has traveled the world (widely in Europe and briefly in Russia, Australia & Jordan). He on the other hand, he is British, born and raised. Quite the adventurer in both business and travel, he has tried his hand at the motorcycle, mountain-bike, restaurant and photography businesses in addition to backpacking for 2 years in Africa, the Middle East, India, and through a good chunk of Asia. When the two of them met in 2007, England became their permanent address….that is until Bulgaria came into the picture.
When I caught up with them about a month ago, I was interested in finding out what motivated them to pick up and move permanently to Bulgaria. For God’s sake from all the countries in the world: “Why Bulgaria?!” By the end of our conversation, I had my answers.
This is the story of Warren and Silvi, and their “Bulgarian Odyssey”!
Q: At nearly fifty, when most are looking for stability and predictability, you two are gearing up for the adventure of a lifetime. What motivates you to leave behind the comfort of a familiar life in the UK and relocate to Bulgaria?
When we first met, we quickly discovered that we had a mutual desire to live a life less ordinary. Almost instantly we recognized that our past professional and traveling experiences would enable us to turn this desire into reality and that is when and how the dream of creating our own business abroad was born.
We have spent the last few years researching several potential locations and only after visiting Bulgaria last year we knew we had found our future home. We fell in love with the unspoiled beauty, climate and fascinating Bulgarian culture and were overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit of the people. It didn’t take long at all to realize that we were willing and ready to spend the next 20 years building a life there.
Q: What is the “Bulgaria odyssey”? What are you giving up to make it happen?
By definition odyssey is “an epic, life changing adventure” and that is exactly what we are doing with moving to Bulgaria, going on our own life changing adventure. However unlike Homer’s literary masterpiece, our “Bulgarian odyssey” entails building a businesses and offering a few services along the way.
We aim to provide a personal, intimate, relaxed holiday service in beautiful surroundings and at the same time offer pottery and photography workshops, bird watching and cultural day trips. This way we hope to give our guests a truly eclectic experience of Bulgaria.
In order to turn this into a reality, we are selling our home in the UK, leaving two full-time, secure jobs, and saying good-bye to family and friends.
Q: You recently purchased your new house in Bulgaria. (Congrats!) How did you go about doing it? What was the process like? And most importantly, what are your plans for it?
During our visit last year, we were on the house hunt and viewed various potential properties all over the country. With our business venture in mind, we decided that Veliko Tarnovo was the most suitable location for the life we wanted to have in Bulgaria. It’s relatively close proximity to the international airports in Sofia and Bucharest, outstanding natural beauty and depth of cultural attractions made it a perfect match.
When we returned to the UK we started exploring properties that were listed on Ebay and bought our house sight unseen. Whereas this was obviously a huge risk and a nerve-wracking experience, we are confident that the property we bought will provide both us and our guests with the experience we have dreamed of for so long.
We plan to renovate the place by ourselves and turn it into the focal point of our “Bulgarian odyssey”. The barn will be transformed into two double, en-suite rooms for guest accommodation. The outbuilding will become the pottery studio, while the gardens will be landscaped to include an outdoors kitchen/dining area covered with shady vines and a natural plunge pool. We plan to have an extensive vegetable and herb garden and maintain the existing orchard, in addition to keeping goats, chickens and bees. All of these will provide us with fresh ingredients that in combination with our existing cookery skills will enable us to serve our guests exciting and tasty Bulgarian dishes.
Q: With this move, you are looking to turn a few of your passions into successful businesses. As “international entrepreneurs”, what opportunities do you see in Bulgaria, that are not present in the UK?
Bulgaria offers us a unique opportunity to live and work together, as a team, combining our skills and interests in a country where the limited financial resources that we have will be just enough to create our rural idyll. That would have never been possible in the UK.
We certainly did our homework, before selecting Bulgaria, and we felt that more exhausted locations such as France, Spain, Italy, etc. were simply not for us. They were either too similar to what we already had back in the UK or they lacked the financial freedom that we craved. We wanted to be in the vanguard of cultural and activity holidays in a country that is still largely unexplored and much maligned in common perception. Bulgaria fit the bill and we almost immediately felt an overwhelming desire to promote and expose the beauty and cultural traditions of this country. I guess one could say that at that moment we had found our inspiration.
Q: With which of her characteristics does Bulgaria inspire you to take a chance and turn your passions into a way of life?
The mere fact that Bulgaria can offer us an opportunity to turn our passions into a way of life is probably, the single most inspiring characteristic of this country for us. Of course its natural beauty and the overwhelming kindness that the Bulgarian people have shown us thus far in our journey are by no means to be underestimated in their inspirational qualities. We are very happy and grateful for them.
At the end, what matters most to us is that we are leaving behind a life that was deprived of creativity, excitement and yes to a great extent, inspiration, and are opening the door to a place where all we have is exactly that.
P.S. You can follow their adventures as they leave for Bulgaria in the next couple of weeks on Twitter @bulgariaodyssey or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org for details of Early Bird Offers on their holidays.
Crave more? Our Resources on Bulgaria page is updated regularly & features lots of interesting & useful reads. Check it out! 😉